N W   T R A N S P O R T   S E R V I C E   C O L L E C T I O N

NationsWay Transport Service, Inc., formerly NorthWest Transport Service, Inc., Denver, Colorado ceased operations on May 20, 1999. The company had been in business since the early sixties. At one time NW was an innovative leader in LTL freight hauling and enjoyed the reputation of a clean and well-maintained uniform fleet of equipment. NW was known for, and also received numerous awards for providing some of the best service in the industry. NW was indeed a proud company.

All sleeper teams were domiciled in Denver, running almost the entire system from that point. At the peak of operations NW operated a 1,250-man board in Denver. During the mid-nineties NW established numerous single-man boards at various locations around the U.S. As a rule the teams ran only as far east as Harrisburg, PA and Atlanta, GA. Solo drivers ran from those points to all points east, southeast and south. In Texas the teams ran to Dallas, Houston and El Paso. Solo drivers covered the other Texas points and portions of the Deep South that Atlanta drivers did not reach. The teams spread out to all other areas of the country, especially the west.

NW employed many drivers that came from other fallen flags; such as but not limited to Ringsby, DC, Navajo, Garrett, Lee Way, PIE & Ryder/PIE and Transcon. Between previous jobs and NW some of the teams had run together as a team for 15-20 years. My partner and I ran together for 11 years.

NW employed over 3,000 Teamsters and an equal number of non-union employees. May 20, 1999 ended an era of trucking that many drivers will not soon forget.

NationsWay Paper Collection

Click on the pictures for larger images.

Van Horn, TX. NW teams were a common sight on I-10 and I-20 running back and forth between Southern California, Dallas and Houston. NW trucks were not fancy, but uniformity of equipment produced a good-looking fleet. Rifle, Colorado triples staging yard. NW used Freightliner road tractors exclusively. Most single-man operations drove recycled sleeper tractors, but some of the domiciles operated conventional day cabs.
The newer sleeper tractors were equipped with a pintle hook at the rear for moving con-gears, air ride suspension, a 36" bunk with independent heater-a/c controls and hooks and bunk board so the drivers could hang the mattress. A "swinging bunk" provided for a smooth rest - well, as smooth as one can expect in a truck. Denver had approximately five twin-screw conventional day cabs for pulling Rocky Mountain Doubles.
Tractors built in the late eighties had a 36" bunk, but were not equipped with separate heater-a/c controls in the bunk. These tractors did not have a pintle hook and rode on spring suspension. Rocky Mountain Doubles is a long trailer and a pup. NW operated these combinations daily between Denver and Salt Lake City on a single-man board. Teams also ran Denver to Salt Lake City on the first leg of an outbound trip and the reverse on an inbound trip, but did not pull Rocky Mt. Doubles.

In the early eighties the standard trailer specification became 28' long, 102" wide and a 7" wedge. This trailer is a Timpte.

In the mid-eighties Strick became the exclusive trailer builder. The early Strick pups had 16 exterior posts (ribs). Note the small radius corner post. This is a patented design that NW began using with the 102" wide square-nose Timpte pups.
(Left Photo) Timpte was the primary trailer builder through the mid-eighties. Through the seventies the company operated 27'-6" long, 96" wide wedge-nose pups. This one is a Timpte. The company also had wedge-nose pups built by Comet.
The late Strick pups had 13 evenly spaced exterior posts on 24" centers. The 4800 series of trailers were 48' Timpte vans. As with the 28' pups these were equipped with a pintle hook, 24" kingpin setting and the same front corner posts. NW had a close relationship with UPS. NW assisted UPS in establishing sleeper operations and also hauled package freight during the peak season.
NW triples - an icon on I-15 in Utah. In Colorado I-70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel replaced U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass. (Trucks loaded with hazardous materials still need to go over the mountain on Highway 6.) Both highways reach an elevation of 10,600 ft. The west side of both highways is a long grueling grade. I-70 is not as narrow and twisting as U.S. 6, but it's still 12 miles of 6% & 7% grades. NW did not operate engine breaks and company policy was that a trailer did not move until it was 95% cubed or weighted out. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, NW trucks were back and forth over the mountain, many times grossing out at 75,000-80.000 lbs. Here a westbound NW is dwarfed by the mountain and almost half way down. If he is grossed out in weight there's going to be a trail of brake smoke before the driver reaches Silverthorne!
NW had probably the largest fuel capacity that one will find, 185 gallons per side, 370 gallons total. Teams could run the farthermost terminals from Denver, such as Seattle, Atlanta and Harrisburg without taking on fuel enroute. Most of the converter gears (dollies) were built by Timpte. These were the best-built con-gears I have ever seen. Notice the support leg at the front and the spare tire at the rear. The tire acted as a counter balance. The dolly could easily be picked up in the front with one hand. Pushing or pulling it by hand on a gravel surface was another matter. In the early nineties new tractors came equipped with pintle hooks at the rear. The company also operated con-gears built by Road Systems and 8-Point. The Road Systems gears were almost identical to the Timpte gears in design and construction and just as good, but the 8-Point dollies were not. A four-digit unit number denotes a 102" wide dolly.



The following five photos show several late 3000 series sleeper tractors. There was one order after these of the earlier Freightliners with the older grille. The last order would have the large "plastic" flexible bumper. The order shown here has the latest wind faring, but still sport the steel bumper. The photos were taken approximately in 1990.
NW #3804 at Salt Lake City, UT.
#3752 along I-84 in Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge.
#3847 taken on I-70 in the Utah Canyon Country.
This order of Freightliners featured the full roof wind deflector and the plastic bumper, but still had the old style of grille.
Tractor #3344 was still fairly new when this photo was taken in early 1993. The front trailer, #10040 was built by Strick in 1992 and represents the latest and final arrangement for the side ribs. There are 13 evenly spaced exterior posts on 24" centers with a lower side rail. The rear trailer, #6422 was built by Strick in 1987 and features the early rib pattern of 16 exterior posts, having two extra posts at the front and one extra post at the rear. These earlier pups did not have a lower side rail.
Number 80349 was one of two sleeper tractors featuring graphics for the Colorado Rockies baseball team. These were the only NW tractors to have a sunvisor. The roof wind deflector and the sunvisor were painted to represent a Rockies baseball cap. NW owner Jerry D. McMorris is also a major owner of the Colorado Rockies. For a left-side view of this tractor visit the Freightliner Collection.
Moapa, Nevada. Little did David realize the significance that this photo would have when he took it, "So long NW."


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David A. Bontrager
T R A N S P O R T A T I O N   P H O T O G R A P H Y
R.R. 1, Box 202
Elnora, IN 47529
Phone: 812-692-5302


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